In the next few days the BBC are due to announce their shortlist of songs for the 2018 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Then, following the pattern of recent years, a Eurovision You Decide show will allow a public vote to select the final entry. This year the show will be on Wednesday 7 February in Brighton and makes an attempt to gain some much needed credibility through employing 2015 winner Mans Zelmerlow alongside Mel Giedroyc.
But even before the BBC’s shortlist is known the bookies are rating the UK down in 24th place with regular front runners Sweden, Russia and Australia occupying the top three slots. Given our recent poor performances, the lack of incentive for ambitious artists to enter and the political climate, such a low level of support at the bookies is to be expected. Especially when we hear that Sweden has scheduled five national song heats just to get down to a shortlist; with other nations having even more entries to pick from. While the tiny Italian enclave of San Marino (population 33,000 or one tenth the size of Croydon) has scheduled four heats…
With Australia hoping to launch a separate Eurovision Asia Song Contest the smart money is backing them for the top spot this year – assuming that they don’t suffer from another reversal at the hands of nationalist / political voters.
Grandads may find this hard to believe but .. submissions for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest have to be in by next Tuesday.
As always finding the UK entry is down to the BBC – and their plan is that all public entries will be carefully considered and shortlisted by a representative panel of official UK Eurovision fan club (OGAE UK) members. At the same time, entries are also being sought from leading professional songwriters, including BASCA members, with guidance from Record Industry Executive and Music Consultant for the BBC, Hugh Goldsmith.
And we expect the same dismal result for the UK as last year unless the in-built voting bias can be overcome with a truly spectacular song. However, after the Brexit vote, the quality of the song may not be a deciding factor. But perhaps Graham can reduce the damage, in Kiev next May, by issuing a groveling apology on behalf of the senile old voters who forced such a terrible result on the elite and glitterati …
With just four weeks to go before the next Eurovision Song Contest all the songs from all the countries are competing for air time and media exposure. And this year’s UK entry, Joe and Jake, have been doing a bit better than many UK entrants in recent years.
In fact they even made the charts! It was an unofficial iTunes chart, in 69th place and for just two days – but it was a start. And tonight’s scheduled appearance on the Graham Norton Show could be a big enough boost to get You’re Not Alone back in the charts again.
However after so many failures over the decades the UK is still sitting around 30th in the betting as at this morning. Which is a bit harsh considering that there are only 25 songs in the final this year. And the mystic signs are good – BBC executives did not choose the entry this time, fewer copies of the promo CD are for sale on eBay and our forthcoming EU referendum might just encourage some Euro voters to be a bit more generous this time around.
Even so the chances of Joe and Jake equaling Katrina and the Waves (1st in 1997) or even Jessica Garlick (3rd in 2002) are still very slim …
With just three more weeks before the start of the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna it looks like the BBC’s cunning plan is working.
BBC executives clearly decided that holding back their fantastic 2015 selection until the last minute was the way to win. And things are certainly going to plan with no sign of the song or its singers appearing anywhere in the pop charts. By holding back demand for the past seven weeks the BBC’s entertainment bosses will be able to hit Europe with the full force of the song’s up-tempo beat and an irresistibly catchy hook in one big push to the finish.
Given that British success in Eurovision 2015 is now virtually sewn-up the bookies have stopped taking bets from BBC insiders. Where a spare few thousand on Electro Velvet can be an amusing diversion for staff bored with tweeting and watching episodes of W1A. Take me back to Vienna …
Last November in Catalonia a vote for independence from Spain resulted in 80% voting in favour. Yet the Madrid government has firmly refused to recognise any such separation moves. Here in the UK last September’s vote in Scotland showed that a 400,000 majority were against independence. Yet the SNP still claim to have a mandate to continue their plan to break away. Even claiming that they would have won had it not been those unconvinced senior citizen voters.
This could be no more than political posturing after a major defeat – except for the upcoming vote to elect Westminster MP’s. The vote, in just six weeks time, is predicted to give the SNP a big share of the 59 possible seats at Westminster.
This prospect has lead to SNP politicians claiming that they will then hold the balance of power at the much-hated Westmister. And just yesterday they claimed that they would sink a minority UK Conservative government by voting down key legislation; such as the Queen’s Speech. A move that would support the theory that SNP MPs at Westmister aim to become so unpopular that English voters demand that they leave. After all independence of England from Scotland is just as effective as Scotland from England for the dedicated nationalist.
But pretend for minute that this unlikely scenario did came about. Scotland would be in the same, crazy situation of having independence from Westminster but not from Brussels and relying on a currency provided by London rather than the EU.
The point being that the key issues that sank the SNP’s boat last year are still there. Irrespective of how many disruptive power-broker MPs the party gets into Westminster the critical issues involved in establishing a new country in 21st century Europe remain unresolved.
[SNP is the official abbreviation for the Scottish National Party – but some say now means Socialist Nationalist Party]
After complaining about the BBC’s poor choice of songs in previous Eurovision Song Contest Grandad has tried really hard this time to be positive and hopeful for British success in Vienna on 23rd May.
Despite last year’s dismal choice Grandad is hoping that BBC Executive Producer, Guy Freeman, can live up to his six-figure salary this time around. Certainly his quote on the official Eurovision web site shows conviction; “I am thrilled that Alex and Bianca will be representing the UK in this year’s competition. Our song for this special anniversary year has an up-tempo beat and an irresistibly catchy hook that is sure to get the party started in Vienna”. This view of impending success is supported by the even higher ranking BBC UK Controller of Entertainment Production who adds “I am certain Electro Velvet will dazzle in Vienna for Eurovision’s Diamond Anniversary and do the UK proud”.
Sadly Grandad’s new positive approach is not shared by many in the British media. “Pop duo Electro Velvet will represent Britain at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, once again demonstrating the BBC’s commitment to never again hosting Eurovision“ and “Do we have to send another bunch of no hopers to ritual slaughter? Is anyone actually enjoying this annual parade of national embarrassment?” are just a couple of quotes from today’s papers.
The fact that the Beeb has selected a group created just for this competition does not build confidence. And with the two group members being a primary school music teacher and a struggling 26 year old reject from The Voice the critics do have a point. But with the ESC still attracting millions of UK viewers- and a predicted 190 million worldwide – it remains the best opportunity there is for BBC executives to show the world their deep understanding of contemporary popular music.
The only slight concern is that this year membership of the European TV network has been expanded, for one year only (?), to include Australia’s SBS. With a direct pass into the final their entrant, the multi-talented singer and ARIA Award winner Guy Sebastian, could prove to be the ultimate insult to injury. Not just for the British viewers but for the BBC itself. It will not look good if the self-styled world’s largest broadcaster is outshone by a much smaller public service broadcaster operating without any licence fee income.
Out of Africa? – At the end of June the Ebola outbreak had infected 759 people and killed 467 across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Yesterday’s update from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the disease is still spreading – and at an alarming rate.
To be exact 6,553 confirmed or suspected cases and 3,083 deaths have been reported in these three countries. Nigeria and DR Congo add another 20 and 70 cases respectively – even though the Congo outbreak is probably a different strain of the disease. As more international aid and personnel are drafted in and NHS volunteers get added to the mix the hope is that the tide will soon be turned.
But even the optimists are expecting the number of cases to keep growing for months despite some form of treatment being rushed through. Meanwhile the pessimists are predicting global disaster …
Are We There Yet? – Even though the Scottish vote on independence resulted in a 400,000 vote majority for Scotland staying in the UK the politicians on both sides of the border seem slow to get the implications.
In Scotland First Minister Salmond somehow decided to keep himself in post until November and seems determined to create has much dissent as possible in his final days. At Westminster the three party leaders have switched their priorities to the bombing of extremists in Iraq while hoping their back room advisers can find ways to reduce the damage from those last minute promises to the Scottish voters.
So even though Mr Salmond looks set to join The Young Pretender as another lost cause he still clings on. Seemingly holding the belief that loosing a once-in-300 year referendum is just a temporary set-back.
But he is not alone in his belief as today a Voice Of The People rally in Edinburgh pledged to carry on the campaign. This will be followed tomorrow by rallies in Edinburgh and Aberdeen demanding a rerun of the vote. So the fight is not yet over!
A view that Prince Charles Edward Stuart would have surely supported – even though he has now been reduced to decoration on tins of Scottish shortbread. [A spot that one day might be occupied by Mr Salmond himself.]
But the big difference between 1745 and 2014 is in the scale of the ambition. Bonnie Prince Charlie had the objective of being the Scottish leader of a united British Isles not just of the northern fraction of a split kingdom. So Salmond for Prime Minister and moving the UK parliament to Holyrood anyone?
Eurovision 2014 – Last Friday saw a curiously low-key announcement from the BBC via the Executive Producer, BBC Eurovision [Guy Freeman] who blogged “I’m pleased to announce the premiere of our UK act and song will be in a Red Button / iPlayer exclusive Monday 3rd March at 7.30pm” … “It was a real treat to discover the work of artists highlighted by BBC Introducing and what most excited us was the quality of singer-song writing. We carefully approached a few artists who stood out to us and once they understood what we were trying to achieve, they embraced the idea of writing a song for the competition from scratch. Knowing that they’d be the one who’d have to go out there and sell it, they could write specifically to exploit their talents. The end result is that we now have a powerful and impressive song that we hope will do us proud in Copenhagen” So at least something is happening …